Tag Archives: Happiness

Four tips for having a better day.

lemon ginger water

Dominik Martin via Unsplash

I don’t know about you, but I find it often takes hearing the same advice many, many (many?) times before it actually sticks.  But eventually, I internalize good ideas and am the better for it.  Here are a few oft-cited “make your day better” tips I’ve recently adopted:

Hydrate in the morning.  One reason we often feel tired and icky in the morning is because it has been several hours since our last drink of water.  We wake up mildly dehydrated and drinking coffee first thing just exacerbates the problem.  I enjoy reading about productive morning routines and this advice pops up frequently.  As does…

Don’t check email or social media first thing.  It sends you down a productivity rabbit hole and puts you in reactive mode for the whole day.  It’s better to tackle your most important, meaningful work before anything else.  Which ties into this next one nicely…

Utilize your peak energy.  For me, this is the first two hours of the day.  If I “ease in” to my day with Facebook and Bloglovin’, I miss that important energy window.  My energy drops dramatically in the afternoon and I rarely feel like doing focused or creative work.  And of course…

Pay attention to Benedict Cumberbatch.  Seriously, I just did not see the attraction for the longest time.  I was vaguely aware of him from the Sherlock series (and found Watson more interesting).  But now I get what everyone is talking about.  This interview with Fast Company is good and this episode of Graham Norton is better.  (Plus, you get Miranda Hart, who is just beyond hilarious.)

 

How about you?  Is there any good advice that you’ve been slow to adopt?

 

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A Scandinavian Dream: My Winter Reading List

winter sunset

Mosier, OR

I’m determined to fight the winter blues this year and to help me follow through on my  ideas for staying happy, I’ve added a few things to my winter reading list:

           

Denmark is often cited as the world’s happiest nation, but “though we wear their sweaters and read their thrillers, how much do we really know about the Danes themselves?”  I’m about halfway through How To Be Danish and am finding this quick introduction pretty fascinating.

Walking is my outdoor activity of choice but I need a lot of motivation in the winter.  So I’ve added two books on the subject that will hopefully inspire me:

In On Looking, the author takes a series of eleven walks around her neighborhood, each with a different expert, to see how her perspective changes with each.

The Joys of Walking is an anthology of twelve essays from a variety of distinguished writers, including Dickens and Thoreau.  (Thoreau’s essay is currently a free Kindle book on Amazon.)

                 

I love browsing through a beautifully illustrated cookbook and the Scandilicious books from food anthropologist Signe Johansen should set just the right mood this winter.

In her follow-up to The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin focuses on “feeling more at home, at home”.  With monthly projects for making the home more warm, comfortable and loving, I think I’ll dip back into Happier at Home throughout the winter.

And finally, I love a good slow-burn crime thriller, so I’m adding the first of the famous Kurt Wallander mysteries to my list.

 

Books aside, I think winter is the best time for curling up in front of the television for a good series binge.  I’m a big fan of the American versions of The Killing and The Bridge, so I’m looking forward to watching the Nordic originals, Forbrydelsen and Bron/Broen.

And, for a quick pick-me-up, I recently stumbled upon the design blog Design Attractor.  So lovely on a dreary day.

 

How about you?  Any Scandinavian-themed reading recommendations?

 

(This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.)

 

A Scandinavian Dream: Ideas For Staying Happy This Winter

Ideas for staying happy this winter

Mosier, OR

It has honestly been a winter wonderland around here this week, with bright sun, glittering snow and afternoons spent sledding on the driveway.  But I know the harsh reality of winter will eventually set in, with prolonged stretches of the cold, gray and gloomy.  The mood around here tends to drop with the temperature, so I’ve always wondered how the Nordic countries, with their ridiculously short days and icy temps, always seem to top the World Happiness Report.  So I turned to the Interwebs to figure out why.

Not surprisingly, things like a high GDP per capita, universal healthcare, generous parental leave and gender equality play a big role.  While it’s interesting to consider how these ideas might apply to organizational management, I was really looking for tangible things I could implement to boost my family’s happiness this winter.  Here’s what I found:

Maximize natural light.  Scandinavian interior design is known for its clean lines, white-washed woods and large, curtain-free windows.  The reason?  Light.  We’re generally more alert, productive and happy when our indoor time allows for ample natural light.

Get outside.  Scandinavians don’t let the cold trap them inside.  They just bundle up and get out there.  Kids are encouraged to play outside every day and even babies are left outside to nap in their prams at surprisingly low temperatures.  Biking to school or work is common in cities like Copenhagen and the vast majority of bikers continue to get out even during the winter’s coldest months.

Enjoy some carbs.  All that hiking, biking and playing in freezing temps will burn a lot of calories.  Which means you can compensate with lovely baked goods.

Volunteer your time.  It seems that Nordic folk volunteer quite a lot, which contributes to a sense of belonging and collective responsibility.  Feeling connected and purposeful leads to greater happiness.  And volunteering generally requires getting out of the house, which fights those cabin-fever induced doldrums.

Get cozy.  While getting out is important, staying in and cuddling by the fire has its benefits too.  The Danish have a term, “hygge“, that loosely translates to “coziness” but encompasses a broader sense of sanctuary, community and closeness.  It’s about creating time and space to enjoy the moment and spend quality time with family and friends.  Crackling fires, warm candlelight and comfortable spaces are key.

 

How about you?  What do you do to combat the winter blues?

 

On optimism.

Sunrise by Nigel Howe

Do you write down your long-term goals?  Productivity gurus recommend separating our to-do lists into daily tasks, mid-range projects and long-term objectives (think: operational, tactical and strategic) and we all know writing down our goals keeps us focused, organized and accountable.  But did you know it can also make you feel more optimistic?

In her book The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky explains how recording our dreams in a “Best Possible Selves” diary can help us feel more positive and improve both our mental and physical well-being.  Writing down our vision of ourselves in 5 or 10 years helps us define our values and our identity.  You get a happiness boost from anticipation, and having a mental image of yourself living your best life helps you stay optimistic about the future.

Other ideas on managing your long-term goals:

 

You might also like:

Notes To Self: Tracking Your Deliberate Practice

 

This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.

(Photo by Nigel Howe via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)